It’s that time of year yet again: Time to buy gifts for the family and other important people in your life. Some people have a knack for giving and finding the perfect gift. They just seem to know what a person needs or wants. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that trait. I find it hard and often stressful to find just the right gift. On that rare occasion that I do find the perfect gift, it really excites me. It is such a joy to see someone’s face light up when they love what you gave them, but overall, I seriously lack in gift giving.
Then you throw in the question “What do you buy for a child who has needs?” It seems to be a tough question, but if you ask the parents of the child they can usually come up with a few ideas. Often, when the question is posed my mind goes blank and I forget about my son’s many needs. But usually, in our case and other parents I have talked to, a warm blanket is always a hit. Basic supplies, light-up toys and gift cards will always work for our special kiddos.
Then what to get the teachers, therapists, nurses and others involved in my son’s life? These people greatly enhance his quality of life, and I want them to know they are important to us. We are blessed with many good ones who deserve much more than our budget can stretch.
The children in my family also can be a challenge to buy for. You want their faces to light up, for them to be thrilled with what you bought. The older they get the more challenging that becomes, except maybe once they get to the adolescent years and really just want gift cards or, in the words of my 12-year-old daughter: “Money is always perfect.” They love to go shopping and pick what they want for themselves.
Amongst the shopping and preparing for Christmas, I need to keep in mind the real reason for the season: The love of God, family and friends; the birth of Christ; the happiness and joy on my children’s faces; Christmas gatherings and parties. I need to slow down and enjoy life’s moments. The best Christmas gifts are free.
For instance, last night I thoroughly enjoyed watching my eldest daughter play a flute solo in her band concert, and last week I saw my middle daughter perform. Watching them excel and grow fills my heart with love. Gift giving is not a concept that Austin can understand, but he does know when someone is talking and loving on him, and in his world that is all that matters. He teaches us that simple interactions are the most meaningful parts of life. When I arrived home from the Hickman High School band concert, he smiled and cooed for joy at the sound of my voice. My heart sang and I know without a doubt that time spent with loved ones is the most important gift we can give and receive.
In a talk with my 91-year-old Grandma last night, she gave me the priceless gift of her Christmas truth: “Family is the ultimate important thing in our lives. Christ showed us the love, and He died on the cross for us. The root word of ‘Christmas’ is ‘Christ.’ Spend time with family and be thankful for what you do have. Gifts are something to treasure. I thank God all the time for food, clothing and shelter.”
This week and the next, I will go shopping for gifts and enjoy the fun and try to avoid the stress of it. But I hope to keep the real meaning of Christmas close to my heart and spend time with my family and friends and be thankful for them. Another quote from my daughter Amber: “It’s more about giving than receiving.”
Reader, I would love some gift-giving ideas. Merry Christmas.
Jenny Wade lives in Columbia with her husband, three children and two dogs. She has a degree in Elementary Education. Jenny is an advocate for her son Austin who has a severe brain injury. Austin has taught her about navigating a new side of life.